Governor Mary Fallin yesterday announced that Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department Executive Director Deby Snodgrass will begin serving as the director of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce (ODOC) beginning Tuesday, January 20. She will replace ODOC Interim Director Don Hackler on that date. Snodgrass will step down from her current post at Tourism and be replaced by a new director named by the Tourism Commission.
Snodgrass also currently serves as Governor Mary Fallin’s secretary of tourism. Fallin announced today that Snodgrass will become Oklahoma secretary of commerce and tourism, combining the two cabinet-level posts.
“Oklahoma’s Commerce and Tourism departments have complimentary roles,” said Fallin. “Both are selling the state as an exciting place to visit, work and do business. Deby has done an outstanding job managing the Oklahoma ‘brand’ as our secretary of tourism. Combining these two posts gives her an opportunity to coordinate that vision and ensure both departments are working together to promote Oklahoma as a special place to live, work and raise a family in.”
As Tourism’s executive director, Snodgrass was charged with supporting a $7 billion industry. Tourism in Oklahoma has helped create over 80,000 jobs, and the department currently employs approximately 800 fulltime and seasonal workers.
As executive director, Snodgrass helped move Oklahoma Tourism into the digital age, focusing on internet marketing and improving TravelOk.com. The site, Oklahoma’s main online portal for tourism and recreation, now averages among the top-five most visited state tourism websites in the nation.
Under Snodgrass’ leadership, the Tourism Department also shed its debt, paying off bonds and operating with an end-of-year surplus. Snodgrass successfully transferred ownership of several state parks to other entities, ensuring they remain open to the public without incurring costs to the state.
“Governor Fallin has always told me she has two over-arching goals for state government: create more and better jobs for Oklahomans; and build smarter and more cost-efficient state agencies,” said Snodgrass. “Our team worked very hard to do both of those successfully for Tourism. I am thrilled for the opportunity to pursue those goals at the Department of Commerce and help to promote Oklahoma as an exciting destination for business and investment.”
Deby Snodgrass has more than 30 years experience in marketing and public policy in the private sector. Prior to accepting the Executive Director’s post at the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, Snodgrass served as Senior Director of Public Affairs for Chesapeake Energy. In that role, she developed and executed strategic political and public policy initiatives, managed both state and federal political action committees and monitored federal, state and local issues. Prior to her tenure at Chesapeake, Snodgrass was a founding partner of the public policy and research firm, Cole Hargrave Snodgrass and Associates. She has been a frequent guest speaker and has taught policy and strategy at various national and international venues.
Snodgrass was also a founding member of the Board of Directors for Friends of the Mansion, Inc. and is a former co-chair of “Opening Night,” Oklahoma City’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration. She served eight years on Oklahoma’s Capitol Preservation Commission and is a former board member for the Arts Council of Oklahoma City. Snodgrass currently serves as a member of the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority, and as an ex-officio board member of Allied Arts and the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority.
As Secretary of Tourism, she is responsible for 19 state agencies, boards and commissions in addition to her duties as tourism’s Executive Director.